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No chaos this time as Woodstock concert site preps for 50th

Carol Laura, left, and George Acquaire walk barefoot to a peace sign mowed in the grass at the site of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Arts Fair, Wednesday, July 24, 2019 in Bethel, N.Y. Woodstock will be celebrated on its 50th anniversary, but it won't be your hippie uncle's trample-the-fences concert. While plans for a big Woodstock 50 festival collapsed after a run of calamities, the bucolic upstate New York site of the 1969 show is hosting a long weekend of events featuring separate shows by festival veterans like Carlos Santana and John Fogerty. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

BETHEL, N.Y. — Woodstock will be celebrated on its 50th anniversary, but it won’t be your hippie uncle’s trample-the-fences concert.

While plans for a big Woodstock 50 festival collapsed after a run of calamities, the bucolic upstate New York site of the 1969 show is hosting a long weekend of events featuring separate shows by festival veterans like Carlos Santana and John Fogerty.

But officials concerned about traffic jams and crowding are strictly limiting access to the famous field now maintained by the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Visitors will need “travel passes” to drive to the site Thursday through Sunday, and only people with tickets for evening events can get those passes. There will be checkpoints.

“We’re trying to encourage people that are not interested in the concert-side of things, and just want to come and sort of breathe the air and feel the vibes … to come on other weekends,” said Bethel Woods chief executive officer Darlene Fedun.

Some would argue that Woodstock’s five-decade legacy belongs to the 400,000 or so people who attended the weekend festival, or to anyone inspired by the peace and music that came out of that anarchic weekend. But, as the anniversary approaches, in practice, it belongs to the separate groups that control the Woodstock music festival name and the concert site 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of New York City.

And their actions make clear that 2019 is way different from 1969.

Woodstock co-founder Michael Lang was part of a group that failed this year to pull off a multi-day Woodstock 50 festival. Organizers faced a series of setbacks, including the loss of their initial upstate New York site. Then they were denied a permit at an alternate site about a month before the show.

Woodstock organizers were denied permits a month before the ’69 show, too — that time in Wallkill, New York. Lang found the Bethel site with weeks to go.

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